Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 8:26 PM
Was that all she wrote for the storied Garnett-Pierce-Allen-Rondo era of the Boston Celtics franchise? Rajon Rondo may be part of the next era. But, you sure got the idea Wednesday Night that glory days of that championship quadrant were officially and permanently in the rearview mirror.
Rondo did whatever he could in Game Two of Boston’s series with the Miami Heat to keep the dream alive. He had one of the greatest Celtics games EVER while the old guys around him were floundering from the field and fouling LeBron James on defense. If Boston couldn’t win THAT game, after holding a 15-point lead in the first half and a 5-point lead in the final minutes…after watching Rondo channel the lifeforce of Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, and Kevin McHale in a hustling point guard’s body…how could they possibly ever win the Eastern Conference or the NBA title?
They can’t. They’re not going to win this series even if they are able to take Game Three Friday Night as small home favorites. Rondo might have another game like that in his arsenal (probably not THAT big so quickly), but there’s no way he has FOUR games like that in his arsenal. And, Boston has to win four games in the next five to take the East.
*Paul Pierce is still playing hurt, which limits how much damage he can do on both sides of the floor. He’s also become very foul prone of late because he’s reaching with his arms while not having any lift in his legs. That just has him hacking shooters on the arm when he’s nearby. Sometimes his lack of speed leads to blocking calls because he’s not fast enough with his bad knee to get position in time to draw a charge. He may have one heroic effort left in him. Not four.
*Ray Allen did everything he could to show that he didn’t need a day off to rest his bad ankle. All it got him was a loss and more swelling.
*Kevin Garnett is starting to show wear and tear from carrying this team through the playoffs. His jumpers were falling short Wednesday Night. He couldn’t control the defensive boards at critical times, which allowed Miami to have second chance points that salvaged an otherwise shaky outing. Garnett has bounced back before from off nights. Can he play four big games in the next five?
There are no heroes on the bench. Maybe tonight brings the last big playoff win of this current era. Maybe Game Seven vs. Philadelphia was destined to be the last big playoff win of this current era but nobody could be sure of it at the time.
For now, we’re left with this:
Miami at its best wins automatically
Mediocre Miami can still win at home
Boston at its best isn’t likely to happen this year
So…to win and cover tonight and Sunday in Game Four, the Celtics have to hope they get significant productivity from at least two of their big four again AND hope that Miami doesn’t bring peak intensity. Miami does have a knack for making things harder than they need to be. Maybe that will be the main storyline of Game Three tonight.
MIAMI vs. BOSTON
Game Three Vegas Line: Boston by 1.5, total of 180
Miami leads 2-0
Some were surprised that Boston opened as a small favorite given the high spreads in Miami and the exhausting effort put forth by Celtics veterans in a heartbreaking loss. Clearly the market is giving respect to the traditional “home opener bounce back” position. Boston is down 2-0 and has its backs to the wall. They will get love from their home crowd (and maybe the officials too). Series favorites often put up a flat game when up 2-0 knowing they’re in such command of the series. All that has made Boston a small favorite vs. the best team left in the East even though the Celtics played a pair of one-point home games vs. the #8 seed in the prior round.
The total is up three points after a high scoring second game. Regulation landed on 198 in Miami’s 115-111 victory. Be aware that the tempo didn’t change much from Game One to Game Two. There was better shooting and more free throws. You can count on slow halfcourt basketball. Handicapping the total means handicapping the likely shooting percentages and officiating style.
JIM HURLEY has sources in Boston that date back to the Bird-McHale-Parrish era. They will have significant input in determining any side and total release from NETWORK in Friday baskets.
GAME TWO SUMMARY
MIAMI 115, BOSTON 111 (in overtime)
Field Goal Pct: Boston 49%, Miami 45%
Three-Pointers: Boston 5/16, Miami 10/26
Free Throws: Boston 26/29, Miami 31/47
Rebounds: Boston 42, Miami 42
Turnovers: Boston 8, Miami 8
Vegas Line: Miami by 7.5, total of 177
If you’re a conspiracy theorist, then the free throw numbers will surely jump out at you. Miami got so tired of shooting free throws that they started missing them in crunch time! It’s worth noting though that the Heat made a big jump forward from three-point land, moving from 5 of 25 in the series opener to 10 of 26 in Game Two. It’s scary to think of how good this team could be if the role players ever made their shots on a night when James and Wade were also playing well. Wade was invisible through much of Game Two, and the Heat still managed to get over the top anyway.
Boston made a big step forward in the rebound category, evening things out at 42 apiece here after losing 48-33 in the series opener. Can they keep that up? Can they WIN the category?
Statwise, this series is fairly well locked in. You know who has the more effective weapons. You know who has the higher upside. What you’ll need help determining is which team is better suited to recover in two days from a 53-minute way. Your first thought might be Miami. But, James and Wade played a ton of minutes in that game too…and some role players shot over their heads.
Maybe Miami’s youth will rule the day
Maybe Boston’s emotions will turn the tide
Maybe both teams will be so tired that that Under is a steal!
Your best move is to link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK right here at the website on game day. Basketball and baseball will be available for credit card purchase. Note that this is going to be a GREAT weekend in baseball alongside the thrills from the NBA playoffs.
MLB Weekend Highlights
Texas at LA Angels
NY Yankees at Detroit
Boston at Toronto
Baltimore at Tampa Bay
Miami at Philadelphia
Atlanta at Washington
St. Louis at NY Mets
The pennant races are already a hot news topic because so many contenders are on the front porch of the East Coast media. That’s going to lead to biased market numbers from this point forward that we aim to exploit.
If you have any questions about NETWORK service, call the main office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include race day at the Belmont. “I’ll Have Another” will be going for the Triple Crown. You can purchase just the race itself, or the full card at a great price.
Back with you Saturday to preview Game Four of the San Antonio-Oklahoma City series. If you’re ready for a serving of BIG JUICY WINNERS, hook up today with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!